Tallahassee family shares experience with hospice care in son's final days

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By: Charlene Cristobal | WCTV Eyewitness News
May 15, 2018

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- It has been four years since Stephen Crayton passed away from a brain tumor. His father still feels emptiness in his heart every single day.

"He was so full of life," his father, Carl Crayton, said. "Very competitive, always had to be the best at no matter what he did. He turned 29 on February 22 and two weeks later, they basically handed him a death sentence.

"There's not a day that I don't wake up in the morning and within five minutes, I realize it wasn't a dream. He's gone," Carl continued.

Stephen spent some of his final days at Big Bend Hospice in Tallahassee, something Carl says was a blessing.

"There was a point where I had a do not resuscitate on my own son," Carl recalled. "And I walked into the chapel and I laid down on the floor and I said, 'That's it.' Somebody lays down beside me on the floor, it was Stephen's nurse, and hugged me like I was her own child. I remember her saying, 'You gotta get up Papi, you gotta get up.'

Carl says staying at hospice allowed his family to love Stephen in his final hours, not to spend it in a waiting room.

But, hospice doesn't just care for the patient.

"Hospice is really about providing every patient with the best possible day that they could possibly have living with the illness that they have," said Nigel Allen, who runs the Big Bend Hospice Foundation. "We focus on adding life to a patient's experience."

That includes making patients more comfortable with medical care, taking care of nursing needs and caring for family, too.

"Everybody these days has this thing of, you know, angels; they're all of a sudden such a big thing, everybody's got their own angel. There's angels here," Carl said. "If you ever get a chance to go next door, into the actual house, that's where you'll meet angels."

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